New month, more of same for Dylan Cease in White Sox’ victory over Giants

Dylan Cease was named American League Pitcher of the Month for June on Saturday. He allowed one run in five innings, helping the Sox to an important 5-3 win.

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Dylan Cease pitched five innings of one-run ball Saturday.

White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease delivers against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning, Saturday, July 2, 2022, in San Francisco. (AP)

AP Photos

SAN FRANCISCO — Dylan Cease was named American League Pitcher of the Month at 2:38 p.m. Saturday.

At 3:13 p.m., Giants right fielder LaMonte Wade Jr. led off the first inning against the White Sox right-hander with a home run. Joc Pederson followed with a double.

Welcome to July.

And then it was welcome back to the Cease of June. He got through five innings without allowing a run after those extra-base hits, helping the Sox to an important 5-3 victory.

“Just continue to attack,” Cease said. “If you fill up the zone, hits and home runs will happen eventually.

“It wasn’t my sharpest. It was good enough.”

Good enough to position the Sox (37-39) for a series sweep when they conclude their West Coast trip Sunday. Lucas Giolito, the last Sox to win Pitcher of the Month honors in May 2019, will start. The Giants stacked their lineup with seven lefties against Cease, a strikeout artist who fanned only four, and if they do the same against Giolito, Cease wasn’t going to lose sleep Saturday night.

“I feel confident,” Cease said. “[Giolito] has such a good changeup, even if they stack up lefties, it should be a good matchup. Definitely a good chance to pull the sweep out.”

The Sox need wins to keep the AL Central-leading Twins, whom they host for three games starting Monday, from getting too far away. They lead the Sox by 5½ games.

But the Sox are 2-0 in July. Perhaps they are turning a corner.

“If we can have fun, wins come with that,” said Gavin Sheets, who had two doubles, including one that scored two runs to erase the 1-0 deficit. “Enjoy the team, pull for each other and have fun doing it. That was our motto last year, and I think we’re getting back to that.”

Cease was pleased to receive the monthly honor after he went 2-1 with an 0.33 ERA, 45 strikeouts and a .192 opponents average over five starts in June. He made five consecutive starts without allowing an earned run from May 29 to June 26, joining Doc White in 1904 as the only Sox starters to accomplish that feat.

The victory over the Giants — who lost for the eighth time in 12 games — improved Cease’s record to 7-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.51. His major-league-leading strikeouts per nine innings rate dipped a bit to 13.09, and he needed 104 pitches to get through five innings. He walked three and allowed four hits.

Pederson misplayed Sheets’ liner to left with the bases full into a two-run double in the fourth, and Yoan Moncada (2-for-3) added an RBI single against righty Logan Webb (7-3, 3.13 ERA). Sheets is hitting .310 (9-for-29) with a homer and four doubles in nine games since getting recalled from Charlotte.

“It was a bit of a mental reset,” Sheets said. “Was putting too much pressure on results. I made some minor adjustments, had some success down there and got the confidence back.”

Leury Garcia, the hero in a 1-0 win Friday night, knocked in a run on a grounder to first baseman Brandon Belt with the bases loaded in the sixth. A second run scored on shortstop Donovan Walton’s errant throw trying to complete a double play.

That made it 5-1, and Tanner Banks, the winning pitcher in relief Friday, pitched two perfect innings in relief of Cease. Joe Kelly, pitching on consecutive days for the first time this season, allowed an RBI double to Darin Ruf in the eighth to make it 5-2.

Kendall Graveman pitched the ninth for his fifth save and second in two nights, but not before allowing a run and bringing the winning run to the plate. He got Mike Yastrzemski on a groundout to end the game.

Those three relievers pitched two days in a row; none are -expected to be available Sunday.

“It will be a different bullpen,” manager Tony La Russa said. “But that’s OK.”

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